The Burn that doesn’t Burn a Whole in your Wallet As a form of exercise, Pilates has been around for almost 100 years now, however its popularity has generally been reserved for dancers, athletes or anyone who could afford upwards of $100 for a private session. Now, state of the art Pilates studios are using new large, user friendly, machines in a more affordable class setting fueled by uptempo music and amplified instruction, and it’s giving Pilates a whole new image. Boutique fitness studios like SLT, WundaBar, Flex Studios and Studio Metamorphosis, are a small part of this huge craze.
The creative mind of Sebastien Lagree and the development of the Megaformer might be responsible for this shift. Lagree Fitness has taken the fundamental understanding of a Reformer, the main apparatus used in Pilates, and has made the machine wider, sturdier and with many more moving parts. These machines are much easier to use than the standard Pilates machine. The springs are large and brightly labeled so you can easily adjust your own tension throughout the class. The foot bar is split in half and the two parts can easily rotate 360 degrees by gently pulling up. These not so minor changes to this apparatus have expanded the possibility of exercises; deep lunges, squats, reverse sit ups, planks, etc., and when paired with the motivating beat of a popular artist it makes for a super intense workout.
We’re also seeing machines that have combined two Pilates apparatuses into one such as the FlexFormer and the WundaBar Pilates machines. These pieces of equipment resemble your standard Reformer with a Wunda Chair attached to the back. The Wunda Chair is a classic Pilates apparatus that looks like a seat with a pedal at bottom near the feet. The pedal is great for advanced students because it’s spring loaded and unstable so it requires a lot of core strength. These classes are closer to what you’d experience in a Pilates private but the spring are still labeled and easily adjustable. Some are missing the loud motivating music you might get in a Megaformer class but you’re still going to get a good workout for a fair price.
While these machines are super cool and incredibly effective at giving you that deep burn, there are few things to be aware of. The classes themselves are designed to be very challenging, therefore, I wouldn’t recommend them to a prenatal client or anyone fresh off an injury. Megaformer classes can sometimes be rough on the hip flexors, especially for people with a weak core or with tight hip flexors already. So runners might want to be extra careful with that one. WundaBar uses a jump board attachment which is great for a burst of cardio, however if you’re not pulling in you abs real tight you might feel it in your lower back. What about that chair attachment? You need to have very good balance to feel comfortable on the chair especially for standing leg exercises. I also noticed a lot of instructors like to use the chair’s pedal for upper body segments, so your shoulders should be in tip top shape before you try that one.
The great thing about these new reinventions is that they are reinventing Pilates as a whole and bringing it to a broader population. Prior to this new trend in boutique fitness, your best chance of experiencing a Pilates machine was in a pricy one on one. Now, with these classes, people can enjoy the benefits of low impact spring resistance for a fraction of the cost. Across the board, these classes are fun, energetic and royally butt-kickin’ with minimal joint impact. A killer new addition to the fitness family and a great option for your daily dose of sweat, this Pilates Instructor approves.